How to start and Maintain A Successful Blog
Starting a blog from scratch, it might seem like a huge task, but it’s actually pretty easy! Of course, it requires some amount of dedication! But this is why we are here, to materialize your passions into a professional-looking blog. You don’t need an IT, you don’t need to hire anyone, and you don’t even need to be a techy-person to start a blog! Follow my step by step Free Guide on how to start blogging for success. All suggestions are from my own experience while transforming my blog.
You can have your own blog up and running today!
How To Start A Blog (Step By Step)
1) Find The Perfect Name For Your Blog.
The first thing you need to decide, even before creating your blog, is the name. Here I would like to add, that you should not be worried about having a very narrow niche, yet. My honest advice, is for you to start, try, and learn by doing. You will find you niche on the way.
Here are some points to take into account, which can help you come up with a name:
- It should be short and memorable
- Avoid using punctuation marks and numbers
- Create a unique name – using a personal word to compliment a more generic one
- Think about your blog name in the long term (you don’t want a name that will only be applicable for a limited topic)
- Verify that it doesn’t already exist as a .com domain – and also check social media
I came up with libratravelblog.com as I wanted a name that represented me (Libra as my zodiac sign) and also my love for travel and writing about it (hence Travel Blog). I already had it on my Instagram handle @itsinalibra, although I suggest you to have the same handle on every platform, so that no one can steal your thunder. You can check if the website name is available and use exactly the same for your Instagram and other accounts (remember to check this also!).
2) Start with the Blog – Set Up Hosting
Hosting is basically a space that you are “renting” on the internet for your website. Here, you can store all of your data, files, and photos that make up your site, so that people around the world can easily access it when they visit your domain name.
Very important step: Free Or Self Hosted
When you start with a blog, you can either choose to host it for free (like on wordpress.com) or pay and be self hosted. Let me tell you from experience, that the free host on wordpress.com is pretty good for a start, but you will have many constraints regarding customisation.
Between free hosting platforms, I believe that WordPress is the best one, especially if you are blogging for your own pleasure and are not planning to monetize your blog. In that case, I would recommend using WordPress.org, where you will host your own site. With WordPress.com, on the other hand, it’s WordPress.com that takes care of all of this for you (easier to start, less freedom).
If you want to customize and monetize your blog, the constraints with a free host are many. I can tell you that from experience, as I have suffered so much to transfer my blog from WordPress to another Host, it took me a few days, as the free version does not allow ANY plugins to fully transfer your blog. I had to transfer it manually, and thus I lost many data and media on the way. Right there I felt I should have been more informed before starting my blog, and now I am trying to help you not repeat my mistakes.
Let’s het back to you new blog! Think about the future. If you want to monetize your blog, in order to have full control over the aesthetic and have a professional domain name (like libratravelblog.com rather than libratravelblog.wordpress.com) then you should go self hosted.
As my bitter experience of changing the host let’s you understand, when I created my blog I had no idea that self hosted existed, so I originally set up an account on the free wordpress.com. In order to have a professional domain name and use plugins for customization, I had to upgrade to a business account (over 300€ a year!) and that is a lot when you are not yet earning from your blog!
As my blog started to grow, I realized all the constraints I had, and that I needed to become self hosted. I decided to migrate my blog over to BlueHost, which is 3-times cheaper than WordPress. It was super easy to migrate over, I used the All-in-one WP migration plugin.
I wish I’d known about self hosting options before starting my blog. Hopefully you won’t make the same mistake as me.
Now I am hosted by BlueHost. They are a great hosting company to start with, as they make it really easy setting up a new blog. They offer quality shared hosting for a really low price of only $3.58 per month through this link. If you really want to commit to your blog (and save money in the long run) it is worth it to chose it for 36 months. They do provide a 60-Days money back guarantee, they have a great support and online chat service. They also give you a free domain name!
I would recommend starting out with the 36 month plan with BlueHost. Not only for the potential money saved, but for the positive mindset that this will put you in. If you go into it thinking you’ll still be running your site in three years, you’ll be more likely to succeed!
Here, you can also check if you’re domain page is free, or add your existing domain page through BlueHost when you sign up.
3) Install WordPress
If you want to start a travel blog, or any blog, you need a self-hosted WordPress.org account. This means the WordPress software lives in your hosting company’s servers, and not on a free WordPress.com account.
I did try to explain you my messy situation, and now I will try to make it clearer for you:
- This way your website is like “libratravelblog.com” rather than “libratravelblog.WordPress.com” (easy to remember and looks way more professional)
- You own your data and information and have full control over your website
- You can track your traffic with Google Analytics
- You can sell advertising on your website and you will not have WordPress ads
- If you want to use plugins it is cheaper to be self hosted
I do recommend WordPress over any other software, it is what I personally use, and what most professional websites use. It is also super easy to upload to your BlueHost account as it’s done automatically!
4) Have a Professional-Looking Blog
Pick A Theme
The best place to start is with a theme. Themes help you to easily design your site. I have tried different free themes for my blog, like the OceanWP and now I am using Astra. Free themes are a great way to get started and work out what kind of layout you want, but of course, they do have some constrains, as they are a lot less flexible. All professional bloggers have a Pro version theme so they can personalize their blog even more. I would suggest you to invest in a theme, only once you have started making money with your blog.
Note: I am very careful when I change Themes . I have already experimented with this when my blog was still small. Keep in mind that after you have content on your blog, upon changing the theme, some setting might change or disappear, and you might need to manually adjust a few details. Just a heads-up here 🙂
One of the tips to customize your blogs appearance is the section where you can add a sidebar and footer widgets. I have seen many bloggers adding a mini About Me section on their Homepage. You can upload this using the text widget, a “follow my blog” widget and links to your social media feed.
5) Install Useful Plugins
In the beggining, I didn’t uderstand the importance of Plugins. Now I can say that they are as important as the apps for your phone. You can find and install plugins in the “plugin” section of your WordPress Dashboard. There are free Plugins for everything you will need.
A subscription to Bluehost is THREE times cheaper than wordpress.com business.
A list of useful Free Plugins that I recommend as a start:
- Yoast SEO – Very important plugin to help optimise your blog posts for Google Search.
- Elementor – Super easy page builder which helps to make your blog customizable and mobile friendly.
- Akismet Anti Spam – This plugin checks your comments for spammers.
- Easy Social Share Buttons – Easily share your articles on social media with the sharing buttons.
I also love using the Woocommerce plugin to manage my e-commerce (which is basically the Shop page on my website) where you can list Digital Products, Downloads, Templates, Courses, Affiliate links) and manage anything your need about your shop. lf you want to set up a shop I would recommend downloading this one too!
6) Start Creating Content
Write Your First Post
The main thing driving people to your blog is the content quality! If you want to be successful blogging, it is not the quantity that matters. Those days where people were writing and blogging every day, and about everything, are over! The quality of the material, and you being an expert of your topic, is what will assure you a trusted audience. So make sure you take your time to create useful blog posts that have impact. You want your articles to inspire, as well as being full of tips.
Make sure you add headers and images to make your article easy to read and follow.
Here are a few content ideas for travel blog posts:
- Top things to do in a country.
- Guide to a specific city/place.
- Travel itinerary ideas.
- Travel hacks
When you first start, I recommend publishing a new article at least once a week. Remember, quality is more important than quantity!
If you’re not travelling at the moment, don’t worry about it! Create a different kind of content, like how you are currently spending your days in quarantine because of the Coronavirus, or a guide on how to start saving money. You can also reflect back on places you have previously visited. If you don’t have many photos have a look on pixabay or unsplash, they provide free stock photos and videos.
Remember to add a category for each blog, this way you can then add that category to your menu and thus make your blog easier to navigate. Also make sure you add a ‘featured image’, I create mine on Canva using one of my photos.
Also guys, please share some LOVE! Include other people, other bloggers, interview successful personalities of your area. This is all worth it for the process of learning and understanding your audience.
The “About Me” page on your blog is likely to become one of the most useful and popular pages. You might think it’s not very important, but as humans, we are naturally curious and surely, your new readers will want to learn more about you and why they should keep coming back.
Make sure to include:
- A photo of yourself
- What kind of things do you write about?
- What value you provide to your readers
- Who is your site for?
- You personal bio
- A call to action (follow me on Instagram…)
7) Work On Your SEO
The last step to work on for your blog is to improve the SEO so that people can find your website. Other than tagging your blog posts and using keywords, there are a few ways you can improve your SEO (and your traffic).
Here are some ways that really work for me:
Sharing your blog on social media is a great way to bring traffic to your site, and it also improves your SEO. The more people clicking through to your website from external sources, the more trusted Google deems your website. Make sure you set up a Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and every time you post, share it on each platform.
Most of my traffic comes from Instagram and Pinterest. For each of my blog posts I schedule at least 10 pins and 2 to 3 IG posts via Tailwind (most efficient scheduling platform for Pinterest and Instagram). This allows me to have posts coming out regularly, without having to manually post them each time.
A good practice to implement into each blog post is where you add 2 images at the end of each of your article that can be ‘pinned’. Use a pretty and notable image and add the blog title plus your domain name. You can create this using Canva. Down here you can see an example.
The main traffic on my blog comes from my Instagram. If you want to learn more about growing your Instagram, check out my blog here “Organic Instagram Growth 2022“.